Not Recipes

How to Make Any Icebox Cake in 5 Steps

By • June 24, 2013 • 43 Comments

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Here at Food52, we love recipes -- but do we always use them? Of course not. Because once you realize you don't always need a recipe, you'll make your favorite dishes a lot more often.

Today: The best summer dessert is also the easiest.

Icebox cake

Cookies and cream: you may know it as an ice cream flavor, but the place they shine -- the place they belong -- is in an icebox cake.

At its simplest, an icebox cake is simply cookies and whipped cream, layered, and left to sit and meld together so that the cookies become creamy and the cream becomes cookie-y and you're left with one, singular, so-good-you-can't-stop-talking-about-it dessert.

Icebox cakes come in all shapes and sizes. I go for the classic: Nabisco chocolate wafers, layered with whipped cream, and stacked into a log. You could also build the cake in a circle, or arrange logs next to each other for a more-classic cake shape. You could flavor your whipped cream with peanut butter or coffee or caramel. You could use graham crackers or gingersnaps or thin chocolate chip cookies. When you're making icebox cake, you're in control.

This is the best make-ahead dessert -- since it needs to be made ahead -- and is a saving grace in the dog days of summer. But I make them year-round, because once you start making them, you're hooked. Here's how I make mine.

How To Make Any Icebox Cake in 5 Steps

1. Dump a lot of heavy cream into a bowl, and whip it until it holds a medium-to-stiff peak. If you're measuring, I like to whip 3 cups of cream for each sleeve of cookies. Before whipping, you can fold in flavorings; sometimes, I add a splash of vanilla or a big pinch of confectioner's sugar, but the cream is great as is.

Whipping cream

2. Take a cookie, spread a spoonful of whipped cream on top of it, and top it with another cookie. Repeat until you have a little tower. When the tower gets too high, lay it on its side.

Stacking cookie

3. Build another tower of cookies, lay it on its side, and connect your two cookie-logs. Repeat until the sleeve of wafers is finished, reserving some of your whipped cream. You should have one, big, messy log of cookies and cream.

Messy log

4. Frost the log with your remaining whipped cream.

log

5. Cover your cake with foil, and let it rest in the fridge overnight. Before serving, you can garnish it with chocolate shavings or sprinkles -- but I usually just slice it on the bias and dig in.

Icebox cake

Still want a recipe? Here are a few for inspiration:

S'mores Pudding Cake
Meyer Lemon Icebox Cake
Spiced Dulce de Leche Banana Icebox Cake 

We're looking for contributors! Email [email protected] and tell us the dish you could make in your sleep, without a recipe.

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: not recipes, cake, summer, dessert, cookies, cream, whipped cream, icebox cake, how-to & diy

Comments (43)

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5 days ago b wood

Publix Super Markets in Florida sells the chocolate wafers. They are found near the ice cream cones, toppings and Marshmellow Fluff, not with the cookies!

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12 days ago Naomi Sokol O'Sullivan

Hi, I'm new to this site, but wanted to pass on some information about the Icebox Cake. I remember it very well from my childhood. It was my favorite dessert ever.
A few years ago, I decided to make it for myself & ordered "Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers" from Amazon.com. I just checked to see if Amazon is still carrying the product & THEY ARE!!!! The boxes are expensive. You can get:
2-9 oz boxes for $24.98, 4-9 oz for $34.98, 12-9 oz for $64.56. The good part is that shipping is free.
boxes for $24.98, 4-9 oz for $34.99

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18 days ago clahr

Hi, just wondering if its possible to freeze icebox cakes so they become like an icecream cake? Or would they become rock hard? Thanks!

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about 1 month ago Dianne Pomeroy

I am 84, and this cake came out just before I was born. But we had larger chocolate cookies then. Not the little ones you buy now. They were roughly 4 inches wide and made for a larger and delicious cake. I wish I could still find them. Did not realize you could do it with the little ones you buy now, but just don't feel they will have the same effect. Loved this when I was a child.

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about 1 month ago Dorothy

Where do I find the thin chocolate wafers. I haven't seen them in many years. I made a lemon icebox pie with them and it was a favorite of my family. Can you help me find them again, PLEASE?

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2 months ago Cathy52

Also very good made with thin store bought gingersnaps

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4 months ago Pom

we were used to have recipee for NY icebox cheesecake? Anybody ?

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4 months ago Kristy Morrill

Sometimes I get fancy. I add a smear of hoemmade jam, especially like blueberry and marmalade, onto one side of each cooky before assembling.
Divine!
Been making this for 0ver 50 year LOL!
Never fails to please.
I use graham crackers with fluff and nutella too.

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5 months ago Diane23

My mother made this cake back in the 1950s. It was, and still is, one of my very favorite desserts. I still make it today, with the help of my 4-year-old granddaughter. A fun recipe for young cooks.

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5 months ago nancy

This may be hard to believe but I'm in my sixties and have never heard of this recipe. Of course, when I was young, our 'sweets' were items like watermelon and raisins. I HAVE to try this recipe. I can't wait to play around with the ideas listed here.

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5 months ago Nicki Savage

That is SO my project for next week. *Drool* <3

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5 months ago mamaT

Well, my mom and both grandmas were European, so I had never heard of this cake. I am awful in the kitchen, but I now have something I will share with my grandbabies for years to come (so far just have one 2 year old.) Thanks so much!!!

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6 months ago newinNE

could you use whipped cream from a can?

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9 months ago KellyA

I made this, but I used gingersnaps. Fantastic!

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3 months ago Suzanne Stlaurent

Great idea with the gingersnaps. Great dessert for fall/ Thanksgiving.Many thanks for the idea..Suzanne

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3 months ago KellyA

You are welcome!

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10 months ago judie davolio

p.s. brettes's cotrect...sprinkles crown on the top!!

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10 months ago judie davolio

Been making icebox cake for decades..one of my favorites...try this
take all the chocolate cookies and smash them or crumble them
then make the layers like a lasagna...
after cooled it cuts or spoons like a dream...
hard to stop eating .... aj

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10 months ago Peggio

I love this! It was a staple at every summer occasion when I was growing up ... mom made it in the old metal ice cube trays. I just found the wafers at the store a couple months ago and made it for a family get together. It's so easy and we all had a delicious trip down memory lane.

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10 months ago Sally Price

Gramma and then Mom (and I) would make this around February 12 and it was called Lincoln Log! Family reunion coming up. Think it's time to whip up another one.

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10 months ago Texas Sharon

It's really nice with a bit of peppermint extract added to the whipped cream. I like it with considerably less whipped cream between each cookie, but love the cake. Thanks for bringing this idea back. ;-)